Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Tea Party Movement: Perversely Refreshing But Totally Stuck On Stupid

While the beliefs of Tea Party adherents are pretty much inimical to my own, there is something refreshing in a perverse sort of way about America still being vibrant enough to allow the extraordinary growth of a political movement based on widespread anger over and mistrust of the sausage factory known as the U.S. government. But then I suppose you could say pretty much the same thing about the movement that led to the election of Barack Obama.

My initial draft of this post had the phrase "American democracy" in the lede paragraph, but that would be a misnomer because Tea Partiers, unlike their pre-Revolutionary War namesakes, are anything but democratic.

And what looked like a boon for a lost-in-the-wilderness Republican Party in the early days of the movement is turning into a nightmare possibly on the scale of the 2008 Election Massacre with the Tea Party putting up poll popularity numbers higher than either major party.

Why a nightmare? Because Tea Partiers are demanding an ideological purity that threatens to
further shrivel the GOP's base, turning it into a truly Southern party and a marginal one at that at a time when it stands a decent chance of winning back some of its electoral loses. Or worse yet spawn a third-party movement that would further fracture a base consisting of a fast shrinking demographic that is well on the wrong side of history.

All of this begs a question: With Tea Partiers in particular and conservatism in general so ascendant these days, why do these people promise to be so godawful bad if they get an opportunity to govern?

The answer is that they are much better at spittle-flecked bloviating over their perceived pity-me powerlessness in the face of Big Government than understanding the real-world consequences of what they advocate should they gain power. Long story short, being pissed off is
not the same as having a plan.

Meanwhile, Tea Partiers have forced out the Florida state Republican chairman (not conservative enough) and are challenging popular Governor Charlie Christ (not conservative enough) in his bid to take over outgoing Senator Mel Martinez's seat with Marco Rubio (who is plenty right wingnutty enough.)

Rubio, in fact, would seem to be an ideal keynote speaker for the Tea Party's first
national convention in Nashville next month, but Sarah Palin was anointed, sending traditional Republicans into further paroxysms. Palin is, of course, is wildly popular among Tea Partiers but extremely unpopular among more to party stalwarts and is death in a red suit for most voters.

Republicans from Newt Gingrich to Karl Rove have spent years appealing to the GOP to become more inclusive, which would seem to make sense since Hispanics and blacks make up the fastest growing segments of the electorate, but Tea Partiers will have none of this and it's hard to imagine that they would so relentlessly attack the president if he was white like them.

Not only are these clowns lily white, but they are unapologetically so. Among the most visible leaders of the movement is Dale Robertson (above, left), who operates TeaParty.org and infamously showed up at a party rally carrying a sign that read
"Congress = Slaveowner, Taxpayer = Niggar.

How American. How democratic. How utterly repulsive.

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